The Bengals will take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. After coming back last week from a four game suspension, Tom Brady will finally make his 2016 home debut. The game will kick off at 1:00 PM. ET.
The Patriots’ passing attack finally rebounded with Brady at the helm. Before last week, the Patriots were one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL. In Brady’s absence, the Patriots elected to run the ball with LeGarrette Blount taking the most reps. In Brady’s return, the Patriots dominated the Browns. Brady picked apart Cleveland all afternoon. He completed 28 of 40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Now with Brady back, expect the Patriots to rediscover their fast pace passing attack.
Brady has made a living making short throws to quick receivers like Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. However, under Bill Belichick, the Patriot’s are always evolving from game to game and season to season. In the offseason, the Patriots acquired tight end Martellus Bennett from the Chicago Bears to pair with Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to exploiting matchups. With Brady back and Gronkowski looking healthier and healthier with each passing week, the Patriots look to once again be an offensive juggernaut.
Last week against the Browns, Gronkowski and Bennett had 11 receptions on 15 targets. Bennett recorded three touchdowns in the red zone. On at least two of those scoring plays, Gronkowski was also open. Having two athletic, big-bodied tight ends down on the goal-line makes it nearly impossible for the defense to guard against both players. The opposing team can choose to double Gronkowski, but that’ll leave Bennett in single coverage with a safety or a linebacker. That’s a matchup Brady will exploit every time.
While improvements in the Patriots passing attack is something to anticipate in the coming weeks, the potential decline of their rushing attack is significant. Through the first four weeks, the Patriots were one of the best rushing teams in the NFL.
Last week against Cleveland, the Patriots averaged only 2.8 yards per carry. Cleveland has an above average run defense, so perhaps that’s partly to blame. Blount’s bruising style of running needs to wear down opponents over time. If Blount’s not getting the carries he needs, his style is less effective.
Cincinnati’s run defense ranks near the bottom of the league in terms of average yards per attempt. The Bengals allow an average of 4.4 yards per attempt according to NFL Stats. New England still ranks in the four rushing attacks in the NFL. Expect both James White and LaGarrette Blount to have a huge impact on Sunday.
Blount has had the third most rushing attempts in the league this year according to NFL Stats. However, he’s averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt. Despite his less than stellar yards per carry, Blount rushed for five rushing touchdowns according to NFL stats. The Patriots’ rushing attack will challenge Cincinnati’s struggling run defense all afternoon.
A.J. Green is always a threat to go deep. On the season, Green has 36 receptions and is averaging over 103 yards per game according to NFL Stats. The Patriots always try to take away an opponents best weapon and that’s Green. If the Patriots find a way to neutralize Green’s impact on the game, then expect Dalton to struggle.
Last week, former Patriot Brandon LaFell had 11 targets from Dalton resulting in eight catches for 68 yards and two garbage time scores. It’s an impressive step forward for LaFell in his new offense after a two-year stint with New England. The Patriots, however, can certainly live with LaFell receiving the lions’ share of Dalton’s targets, as opposed to Greener alternatives.
Patriots Vs Bengals Betting Lines
Cincinnati is a solid team that has had its struggles this year on both sides of the ball. Last week, against the Cowboys, they got embarrassed on the road. If they were playing any other opponent, they’d be due for a bounce back performance. But, this isn’t the Brady-less Patriots anymore. Brady’s out to prove something and the fans in Foxborough are in for a show. Expect the Patriots to win big to cover the spread on Sunday.
Play: Patriots -8.5 @ BetOnline.ag